Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
John Kitching
2:31 PM 9th November 2023

Perfect Time For A Sea Cruise

A lovely bright musical trip on a liner would do anyone good, especially on a cold November evening, and Bradford Catholic Players produced a wonderful effervescent trip at Yeadon Town Hall on their opening night. The reception they received from the first-night audience was rapturous and well worth the many months of rehearsal that they have obviously poured into the show.

Billy Crocker (Alex Wright). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
Billy Crocker (Alex Wright). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
Anything Goes is a frothy tale written in 1934 by PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, with music and lyrics by the incomparable Cole Porter. It takes place onboard the SS American as it sails from America to England with a varied group of passengers. Reno, a nightclub singer, is sailing with her angels, Hope Harcourt, an American debutant, is sailing with her mother and betrothed Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, planning to get married on her arrival in England. Mobster Moonface Martin and financier Elisha Whitney are also on the passenger list. Elisha's assistant, Billy Crocker, has stowed away to try to win Hope back and stop her from marrying Lord Evelyn. Add to the farcical mix Reno’s love for Billy and Elisha’s rekindling of an old affair with Hope’s mother.

Alex Wright plays Billy Crocker, full of energy, cheeky charm, and wit. He is a very capable song and dance man who is fast making his name in the local area. Anna Riley, as Reno, is full of poise and self-assurance as a nightclub singer, whether leading the company numbers or singing solo, a real treat to listen to. The comedy is provided by two experienced actors, Jonathan Tate as Moonface Martin and Darren Smith as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Both have the timing and understanding of comedy to deal with the farcial situations they meet with perfectly. Hope Harcourt, played by Niamh Murphy, Billy’s love interest, is full of grace and ready to follow her mother’s wishes to marry Lord Evelyn, but secretly in love with Billy, her singing in her solo numbers is enchanting.

Reno Sweeney (Anna Riley). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
Reno Sweeney (Anna Riley). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
The whole production team should be applauded for a wonderful show. Producer Andy Lunn, who provides a real understanding of the period of the piece as well as PG Wodehouse’s wonderful writing, in particular the comedy of farce. Choreographer Megan Elsegood has set dances that could have been plucked straight out of the period, using the talents of individuals to their best. 

While Musical Director Anthony Martin has pulled together a 12-piece band that obviously understands the music of Cole Porter, he started the night off with an overture that perfectly set the scene and continued with a balanced sound that complements the singers wonderfully.

Hope Harcourt (Niamh Murphy) and Billy Crocker (Alex Wright). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
Hope Harcourt (Niamh Murphy) and Billy Crocker (Alex Wright). Photo by Gareth Edwards Photography
Yes, this was an amateur production, but one that would not be out of place in any of our local regional theatres. The performers work hard for many months to produce shows that are the bedrock of theatre in this country. Many of our current professional stars started in amateur theatre, moving on to the West End and touring company shows. We should rejoice in these amateur companies that provide the grounding and training to make our professional stage as vibrant as it is and support them fully because who knows where the next West End star will come from?

Anything Goes is on at Yeadon Town Hall
until 11th November